Study: Mobile to soar to unexpectedly high heights by 2016


Content Writer: Matt Rowe Matt Rowe Chief Technical Officer

If you think mobile made serious moves in 2011 - wait until 2016.

That's what Cisco said in its recent report, the Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016.

Researchers predicted that by 2016, more than 10.3 billion mobile-connected devices (mobile phones, tablets, ereaders or laptops) will be available to the global public - meaning more than one device per worldwide consumer.

Cisco pointed to three factors - content, newer devices and more sophisticated features - as the primary reasons for the increase. They also touched on the expected rapid rise of mobile video, mobile gaming and connection speeds.

"It is an enormous opportunity for marketers to increasingly test mobile marketing possibilities, ranging from SMS to full-blown cross-channel campaigns and activities where mobile plays a central role," said Kevin Petschow, spokesman for Cisco.

Specifically, it's expected that mobile video will make up 71 percent of mobile traffic by 2016 - an increase from 2011's 52 percent. To reach that figure, video traffic will need to double every year for the next five years.

Furthermore, mobile gaming is projected to see a "17-fold" increase by 2016, as more users shift from traditional gaming consoles to mobile devices. Peter Vesterbacka of Angry Birds creator Rovio even went so far as to say that console games are "dying," according to VentureBeat. He says that gaming companies are becoming more "nimble" and can release new content quicker and for less money - as opposed to the $50- to $60 videogame users typically spend per game.

Cisco also discussed mobile connection speeds in its study, predicting that they will rise "nine-fold" by 2016. In 2011 alone, mobile network connection speeds doubled, but given Cisco's outlook, it seems that the much-heralded 4G speeds boasted by mobile carriers may soon be outdated.

With regards to specific connection speed, the average mobile network downstream speed in 2011 was 315 kbps - up from 189 kbps in 2010. For smartphones specifically, that number rose from 986 kbps two years ago to 1.3 Mbps last year.

When it came to tablet devices, Cisco expects mobile data traffic to quadruple its 2010 numbers. Tablets generated 3.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone in 2011.

Petschow added that mobile apps will also continue to grow.

"Many uniquely mobile apps continue to emerge, such as location-based services, mobile-only games and mobile commerce apps," he said.


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